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Canada won't join U.S. to isolate Syria, PM says
National Post ^ | 2002-04-16 | Robert Fife

Posted on 04/16/2003 4:16:39 AM PDT by Lorenb420

OTTAWA - Jean Chrétien yesterday distanced Canada from Washington's campaign to pressure Syria to disarm and sever ties to international terrorism, a move that could widen the rift between Canada and the United States.

But the Prime Minister, on a trip to the Dominican Republic, appeared unmoved by U.S. disapproval of Canada's refusal to join the war against Iraq, saying he was "very proud" of his stand against the war.

Mr. Chrétien went further, declaring Canada has no plans to join the United States if it imposes economic sanctions on Syria.

"If the Americans decide to do that, they have the privilege to do that. For us, we're not planning to do anything like that immediate," he said.

He said later that questions about possible American sanctions or military intervention in Syria were "strictly speculation."

"It's not my role to respond to all questions of if, if, if, if, if. Let's deal with reality," he said.

However, the Prime Minister's assertiveness could further antagonize George W. Bush, the U.S. President, who has accused Syria of stockpiling chemical weapons and harbouring fleeing members of Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime.

The United States moved yesterday to further isolate Syria by shutting down a pipeline used for illegal oil shipments from neighbouring Iraq. There have been reports that Syria was receiving 150,000 to 200,000 barrels of oil daily through the pipeline, which was operating in violation of UN sanctions.

On Monday, Mr. Chrétien told reporters he was not aware the United States had threatened Syria. But yesterday, the Prime Minister accused the media of exaggerating the importance of his failure to keep abreast of the news.

"If they talk in Washington, I hope that you will not expect me to be listening 24 hours a day to all that's being said around the world," he said.

Mr. Chrétien's determination to continue standing up to Mr. Bush came just hours before Colin Powell, the U.S. Secretary of State, expressed disappointment with Canada's policy of neutrality but said he was confident Ottawa would help rebuild Iraq.

Jason Kenny, the Canadian Alliance critic for Canada-U.S. relations, condemned the Prime Minister's refusal to support U.S. pressure on Syria.

He said the Prime Minister seems determined to kick sand in Mr. Bush's face after he cancelled a May 5 state visit to Ottawa, while inviting John Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia and a staunch supporter of the war, to his Crawford, Tex., ranch on May 2-3.

"He has decided to dig in and be petulant. His idea of independence is to react to the United States," Mr. Kenney said.

"Why can't Canada lead the world in using its supposed diplomatic authority to pressure states sponsors of terrorism like Syria rather than admit that he has completely mishandled the Iraq file?"

Mr. Chrétien insisted yesterday that Mr. Bush's cancellation of the Ottawa trip had nothing to do with Canada's anti-war policy. He also said the President's prized invitation to Mr. Howard was not as significant as the Ottawa trip, which was "a more onerous, official visit involving a speech in the House of Commons."

"Both governments have agreed to postpone it. That's the reality," Mr. Chrétien said.

Steve Hogue, a spokesman for the Prime Minister, said Mr. Chrétien had no plans to speak to Mr. Bush even though the two have not talked since February: "When he feels the need, he will call him."

However, Jacques Chirac, the French President and Europe's most outspoken critic of the Iraqi war, has telephoned the U.S. President to repair frayed relations.

Mr. Chirac called Mr. Bush -- the two leaders' first conversation in more than two months -- and told him Paris is willing to adopt a "pragmatic approach" on post-war issues.

Among the issues cited by Chirac were Iraq's administration and reconstruction, its rich oil resources, international sanctions still in place against Iraq, and plans for an interim government.

Mr. Kenney said he was stunned Mr. Chrétien would not call Mr. Bush to repair fractured relations between the two countries. "We have a crisis in Canada-U.S. relations and he says there is nothing to talk about."

Speaking in Washington about Canada-U.S. relations, Mr. Powell acknowledged Mr. Bush was unhappy with Mr. Chrétien's handling of the war in Iraq but tried to put a positive light on future relations.

"Canada and the United States are, frankly, inseparable," he said. "Obviously, we were disappointed in the initial Canadian response to the conflict but I am confident now that we are in the reconstruction and humanitarian phase that Canada is in the unique position to provide assistance."

The Prime Minister has said Canada is prepared to offer RCMP and humanitarian aid although the U.S. embassy in Ottawa said it still awaiting a concrete proposal.

Meanwhile, Bill Graham, the Foreign Affairs Minister, yesterday played down any rift in Canada-U.S. relations, insisting Washington needs an independent voice from an ally like Canada: "I think there are many Americans who agree with us."

Mr. Graham told reporters in Vancouver that Canada wants Syria to "be co-operative in getting rid of weapons of mass destruction."


TOPICS: Canada; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: canada; syria

1 posted on 04/16/2003 4:16:40 AM PDT by Lorenb420
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To: Lorenb420
Some people, when they hit bottom, grab a shovel and start digging.

2 posted on 04/16/2003 4:22:04 AM PDT by Loyalist ("Of all the crosses I had to bear, the heaviest of all was the Cross of Lorraine."--Churchill)
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To: Lorenb420
Cretin has a cheese-eating surrender monkey name...now he is trying to turn the Canucks into France. Will they have to give up soap and basic hygiene in solidarity with the Frogs?
3 posted on 04/16/2003 4:22:50 AM PDT by Young Rhino (France delenda est)
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To: Lorenb420
Let's deal with reality," he said

OK, reality is: you're an idiot.

4 posted on 04/16/2003 4:24:52 AM PDT by libertylover (Grateful to all who have servedl.)
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To: Lorenb420
If Canada had a military, we could demand they disarm. Bunch of nattering old women. Who cares about Canada anymore. Totally irrelevant.
5 posted on 04/16/2003 4:29:40 AM PDT by cynicom
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To: Young Rhino
Oh, but they HAVE given it up in French Canada, and that's no joke. Have you ever been there? And I am of French ancestry, so it's PC for me to bash them.
6 posted on 04/16/2003 4:33:33 AM PDT by DC native
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To: Lorenb420
Me and a couple of my hunting buddies have decided we are going to Canada and take over. We aren't taking any guns we won't need them. We are going to rename Canada. The new name will be Extreme North Alabama.
7 posted on 04/16/2003 4:35:57 AM PDT by Conspiracy Guy (Saddam's Hiding In Tikrit He's Eating Another Daisy)
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To: Lorenb420
But the Prime Minister, on a trip to the Dominican Republic, appeared unmoved by U.S. disapproval of Canada's refusal to join the war against Iraq, saying he was "very proud" of his stand against the war.

Perhaps the Canadian media hasn't reported on the torture chambers. Maybe they haven't informed their country about the childrens and underground prisons. Maybe Mr Chretian is unaware of the practice of rape and family disappearrances and murder that occurred routinely in Ba'athist Iraq.

Maybe he just doesn't give a crap.

Prairie

8 posted on 04/16/2003 4:41:09 AM PDT by prairiebreeze (Freedom isn't free.........unless you live in France.)
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To: prairiebreeze
Public comments of conviction mean nothing. Chretian is in trouble and he knows it. Thank God we have grownups in the Administration who do not yell and shout but quietly take care of business. They will take care of all the so-called allies. Look: Rumsfeld declares no more "no fly" planes in Turkey which is a tremendous loss to their economy as the dependents are already home; Senator Hutchinson announces several weeks ago that the 370 million we were to spend on bases in Germany is being withheld; there is open talk about moving forces to Eastern European countries for "tactical reasons"; Syria is losing about 1 billion a year with the pipeline being cut off; the UK has withdrawn its contract with a French shipbuilder for new fleet ships; the US has withdrawn from joint projects with France to develop high tech equipment which will put France into the stone age technologically. In contrast with the prior administration, this group acts but rarely talks!
9 posted on 04/16/2003 5:23:00 AM PDT by AZFolks
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To: Lorenb420
Close the border with Canada. I bet he'd notice that...
10 posted on 04/16/2003 5:57:04 AM PDT by DB ()
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To: AZFolks
I'll join in with you in applauding our Administrations maturity in dealing with various weasles and vermin. This whole deal has been enlightening and instructional albeit disruptive to our long-held concepts as to who our allies are. So be it. It's better that we know up front.

Chretian? My sarcasm extends to him because of the weasle he and his ilk are.

Prairie

11 posted on 04/16/2003 7:53:42 AM PDT by prairiebreeze (Freedom isn't free.........unless you live in France.)
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To: Lorenb420
Chretien and Kim Jung-Il are both engaged in needling the US until they get a reaction. Kim knows what to expect. Chretien doesn't though, and neither do I.
12 posted on 04/16/2003 1:07:05 PM PDT by gcruse (If they truly are God's laws, he can enforce them himself.)
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To: gcruse
WTF is my prime minster even thinking.

Lets see .... Chretien is retiring and the new prime minster (likely Paul Martin) will be announced in November 2003. I think I'm right? Yeah that has to be right if memory serves.

So I have 7 more months of this idiot.

Where is my brown paper bag to put over my head.

13 posted on 04/16/2003 1:14:53 PM PDT by hawkaw
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To: Lorenb420
Canada, France, Germany and Syria -- some *coalition*!

Frontpage Magazine has a good article calling Canada, "France II". I think that about sums it up.

14 posted on 04/16/2003 1:15:49 PM PDT by Sunsong
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To: Lorenb420
I wish those numbnuts would stop telling us what they WOULDN'T for us and start telling us what they WOULD do. It's bound to be a much smaller list
15 posted on 04/16/2003 1:18:18 PM PDT by Vinnie_Vidi_Vici
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To: hawkaw
Chretien is being a deliberate prick. I can't imagine what balcony he is playing to. What does it take to dissolve Parliament? A two-thirds majority or a plurality?
16 posted on 04/16/2003 1:18:41 PM PDT by gcruse (If they truly are God's laws, he can enforce them himself.)
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To: Lorenb420
In an unrelated headline: "Syria won't join Canada to isolate U.S., PM says"
17 posted on 04/16/2003 1:29:03 PM PDT by jriemer (We are a Republic not a Democracy)
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